St. Patrick's Day northern lights in glowing green wow star-gazers

That stunning sea of green in your Twitter feed may very well be photos of auroras in the night sky, rather than of shamrock foam fingers and pints of green beer.

Auroras will dazzle above much of Canada and as far south as California this week

That stunning sea of green in your Twitter feed may very well be photos of auroras in the night sky rather than shamrock foam fingers and pints of green beer. 

The skies over Yukon, Northwest Territories, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of B.C., Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador gave observers an aerial St. Patrick's Day parade of lights on Tuesday, and the dazzling lights are expected to shine again on Wednesday. 

Photographer and WestJet Encore pilot Matt Melnyk captured these stunning shades of jade across northern Calgary that would impress even the most jaded star-gazer:

(Matt Melnyk)
(Matt Melnyk)

A sky backlit in green appears over Conestoga, Ont., in this photo taken by CBC viewer Della Stroobosscher:

(Della Stroobosscher)

Krystyne Elliott sent us the photo below taken north of Uxbridge, Ont., on Tuesday night. She calls it "a green rainbow across the sky."

(Krystyne Elliott)

A "severe" G4 electromagnetic storm set off by bursts of magnetized gases from the sun is expected to trigger northern lights over much of Canada and as far south as northern California over the next two days. 

Kosala Rajapaksha shared this photo on Wednesday of swirling green lights over Saskatchewan:

(Kosala Rajapaksha)

The International Space Station caught this video of the northern lights from above:

On mobile? See the video here.

Forecasters say a severe solar storm is smacking Earth with a surprisingly large geomagnetic jolt, potentially affecting power grids and satellite tracking systems while pushing the colourful northern lights show farther south than usual.

The predominantly green lights this week are the result of particles colliding with oxygen, which produce green and yellow hues. When they interact with nitrogen, red, violet and blue hues are produced. The emerald sky in the photo below was captured just outside Winnipeg Monday night:

On mobile? See the photo here. 

"Green is the most predominant colour," Emma Spanswick, associate director of the Auroral Imaging Group at the University of Calgary, told CBC News. 

"Because of St. Patrick's Day, Canada's covered in green" she joked.

Two blasts of magnetic plasma left the sun on Sunday, combined and arrived on Earth on Tuesday, much earlier and stronger than expected.

A live stream of the northern lights from Yellowknife, can be accessed on the AuroraMAX website Wednesday night. The project is a partnership between the University of Calgary, the City of Yellowknife, Astronomy North and the Canadian Space Agency.

(Matt Melnyk)


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